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Monday, June 9, 2014

Amazon Top Reviewer Loves New Mystery

Title: The Threshing Circle.
Author: Neil Grimmett
Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Author's Web site: www.neilgrimmett.com
Available for Kindle
5-Star Amazon Review

Reviewed by B. Case, originally for Amazon
One of the major reasons I continue to read and write book reviews is because I look forward to the rare chance of being exposed to outstanding fresh literary talent. As an Amazon Top Reviewer (in the U.S.), I get solicitations to read and review thousands of books a year. Most of these solicitations do not appeal to me and I ignore them. However on occasion, a few catch my interest and I agree to read them in exchange for an honest review. Despite my discriminating selection process, I’m often sorely disappointed. Every now and then, I discover a genuine gem. “The Threshing Circle,” by Neil Grimmett, is a case in point.

This book is exceptional on so many levels. Most important, it’s one terrific story! It grabbed me from the first page and didn’t let go. The characters are authentic. The plot was challenging, complex, clever, and thoroughly entertaining; it is filled with every variety of intense human emotion. The writing was polished, the pacing almost perfect. And the ending…well, blew me away!

It’s a mystery-suspense thriller set in modern-day Crete and that’s a significant part of its charm. The book so authentically captures that specific island culture, I honestly felt I was there…tasting the food, smelling the aromas, basking in the brilliant light, walking the ancient streets. The proud people and culture of Crete are definitely unique. The island is part of Greece, but it is an ancient culture of its own. The author is British, but has spent a great deal of time living in Crete. He obviously knows these people and this place intimately. More important, he has the skill to make us part of that world, too. This is one of the chief reasons I fell in love with this thriller.

The story begins during World War II when the Germans have occupied Crete and there is a strong underground resistance movement underway among the island citizens. A resistance fighter named Kapetanios Michaelis falls deeply in love with a stunning visiting English artist named Marianna. They marry and relocate to a small village where Michaelis hopes Marianna will be safe while he continues his clandestine resistance activities. There she gives birth to their daughter, Athena. Their love is ideal and pure; however, it is built on a perilous lie: Kapetanios Michaelis is already married. Marianna has no knowledge about her husband’s bigamy. Unfortunately, Crete is an island where everyone knows everyone else’s business and it is an island where family honor, blood feuds, and vendettas are paramount. Naturally, the family of Kapetanios Michaelis’ first wife is driven to avenge the loss to their family honor. They devise a cunning plot that will cause Marianna to be captured and killed by the Germans. It is successful, but Marianna’s death does not satisfy the blood feud. There are many loose ends to this convoluted affair that carry forward generations into the present day. What these complications are, and how they evolve over the years, form the mystery and drive the fast-moving action of this novel.

The central contemporary storyline focuses on two main characters: Kristy, a 36-year-old Scottish expat who owns a kafenion (a typical Greek café and gathering place) and Barba Yiorgos, the 71-year-old son of Kapetanios Michaelis, a colorful and beloved local citizen. Into this world come two foreigners, Eleni and Patrick, a loving young couple who tell everyone that they are on vacation. But this charming couple end up doing some strange snooping around that catches the attention of both families wound up in the multigenerational family vendetta that started with Kapetanios Michaelis and Marianna more than a half-a-century earlier. Soon, Eleni and Patrick disappear under extremely questionable circumstances and Krista and Barba Yiorgos become partners in trying to figure out the mystery of what might have happened to them. Are they kidnapped? Why? Where are they? Who has them? Can they be saved?

This is a powerful thriller with believable, authentic, and charming main characters. The writing is superb, strong, literary, but never gets in the way of the story; Neil Grimmett is a careful skilled craftsman.

As a woman, I loved this book, but I get the feeling that men might enjoy it even more because there are significant masculine thematic elements. Read it. I’m betting, you won’t regret it. It’s a first-rate mystery-suspense novel in every way.
See all of Case's reviews on Amazon.

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